“I wanna have friends that I can trust — that love me for the man I’ve become not the man that I was.”
These are the initial words of a song by the Avett Brothers (pictured to the left) called “The Perfect Space.” I believe we have something inside of us that would love to be known for the people we have become — not the people we were. In fact, not only do we want this for ourselves, but (in our better moments) we also want this for the people in our lives. We want to be the friend or colleague who will see others as who they are becoming and not as they were.
But, we have a natural resistance to this: Familiarity. We all look for familiarity — in ourselves and in others. This is part of the Lizard Brain. Even armed with good intentions, we want the people closest to us to be familiar and this is at odds with seeing them as people who have grown and developed and become great. This same dynamic is at play in our workplaces, our friendships and our closest relationships.
But what if part of their greatness will come as a result of our willingness to see them that way and respond to them on that basis?
That’s a question that I think every parent, every spouse, every boss, every friend, every colleague, every fill-in-the-blank-relationship needs to sit with for a while — because how we answer that question in practice will shape huge swaths of our lives.
For my part, I am doing what I can to address and still the part of my own Lizard Brain that keeps people I care about in a box that I am used to. Seeing people who have changed for the better (even if it is not what I have expected) is someone I want to be. Certainly we can hope to be known by our friends as people we have become. But really all we have control over is how we choose to see them. Let us practice stilling our Lizard Brains and seeing those in our lives as the people they want to become or have already become.